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Source: New Zealand Dental Association

New Zealand’s Dental Association (NZDA) is asking Kiwis to ditch sugary drinks for the month of November as part of the NZDA’s annual Switch to Water Challenge.
This year’s 30-day challenge launches on 1 November to coincide with New Zealand’s National Oral Health Day and aims to put the spotlight squarely on the negative role sugar plays in our diet.
The Dental Association is thrilled to have former Olympian and Black Sticks hockey player Brooke Neal back onboard this year to help promote the challenge and support participants.
“Water is my go-to drink of choice for maintaining physical and mental wellbeing,” says Neal.
“During my time as a sportswoman, it was important to stay well hydrated and water is the best choice for that. What is less appreciated is its role in supporting positive mental health,” she says.
“The 30-day challenge offers everyone a fun way to do something positive for their health and wellbeing ahead of summer and the sugar laden temptations that go with the festive season.”
Research reveals Kiwis consume around 37 teaspoons of sugar per day and that’s having a hugely detrimental effect on their health. Adults should ideally not consume more than 6 teaspoons per day, and children not more than 3-4 per day.
Sugary drinks are a leading cause of tooth decay and contribute significantly to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and many other health problems. Currently, nearly two thirds of adults and one third of children are either overweight or obese in New Zealand.
In recent years, upwards of 30,000 children a year have had one or more teeth removed due to dental decay through the Community Oral Health Service or through the public hospital system.
NZDA President Dr Amanda Johnston says switching from sugary drinks for water has benefits for your whole body, but especially your mouth.
“As a general dentist in Whāngarei, I see so much damage caused by high sugar drinks. They have no health benefits and are a leading cause of tooth decay in children,” says Johnston.
“If your children or grandchildren are thirsty, show you love them by giving them water. Water is the best option for good health, and it’s the cheapest also.”
This year’s Switch to Water Challenge launches on 1 November with an event featuring Brooke Neal at Papatoetoe East School in South Auckland.
Visit to learn more, check out prizes are on offer, and register your participation by 15 November 2023. 
  • Brooke Neal and other NZDA spokespeople are available for media interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact NZDA Promotions Manager Anishma Ram on 021 0258 3588.
  • Check out this year’s promotional video here:
  • Learn more about the negative role of ‘free sugars’ in our food and drinks with the attached FDI Position Statement on Free Sugars. This factsheet is endorsed and supported by the NZDA.
  • If you would like to attend the launch event at Papatoetoe East School, please contact NZDA Promotions Manager Anishma Ram on 021 0258 3588 to arrange access.
  • The attached photograph of Brooke Neal can be used freely by all media outlets supporting this NZDA public health initiative.